Story

In The Hate U Give, Starr (Amandla Stenberg) is a 16-year-old African-American girl from a poor and violent African-American neighbourhood. She attends a prestigious and mainly white private school. Trying to fit in, Starr hides her African-American identity from her schoolfriends, but at home she tries to hide her ‘private school’ identity from her neighbourhood friends.

One night Starr is leaving a party with her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith). They’re pulled over by a police officer, who shoots Khalil. Starr is forced to watch her friend die. While trying to come to terms with the horror she has witnessed, Starr becomes more and more desperate to speak out for her friend. It becomes clear, however, that to do so would not only reveal her true self to her schoolfriends, but also put the lives of her family at risk from the violent gang lord King (Anthony Mackie).

As the threats to her family increase and the racist attitudes of her schoolfriends begin to eat away at her, Starr makes the ultimate stand for justice.

Themes

Racism; violence; gang warfare; family; death; justice; civil rights; death of children and young adults.

Violence

The Hate U Give has some violence. For example:

  • Male and female characters of all ages threaten to physically harm other people by beating them up, shooting them and so on. The reasons for the threats range from infidelity to snitching.
  • Characters are physically harmed many times. For example, they’re beaten up, attacked by police officers, shot, teargassed during a riot, and so on.
  • A police officer shoots a young African-American man several times and kills him.
  • Protesters attack police officers and damage property. This might seem justified to some viewers in the circumstances.
  • Starr aggressively threatens and physically menaces a schoolfriend with a hairbrush to make a point about it not resembling a gun. This is intense but presented as justifiable because the schoolfriend has spoken in a racist way.
  • Gun violence happens or is threatened many times.
  • A family’s grocery store is deliberately set on fire while two teenagers are locked inside.

Sexual references

The Hate U Give has some sexual references. For example, a 16-year-old girl talks about her older boyfriend having a condom.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Hate U Give includes some use of substances. For example:

  • There are many references to drug-taking and drug dealing. People talk about ‘molly’, weed, cocaine and ‘condom pills’.
  • People drink heavily at a party. The scene shows spirits.

Nudity and sexual activity

The Hate U Give has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:

  • A mother and father kiss and flirt intimately several times.
  • Starr and Chris kiss intimately several times, including at school.
  • Starr and Khalil kiss.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in The Hate U Give:

  • Nike products, including clothing and Jordan sneakers
  • All Spice cologne
  • Beats by Dre headphones
  • Smartphones, including iPhones
  • Paterson sweatshirt
  • Lego.

Coarse language

The Hate U Give has frequent and strong coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Hate U Give is a strong and heart-wrenching adaptation of the novel by Angie Thomas. Focusing on themes of racism and justice, this often-graphic movie adeptly explores difficult ideas through strong performances and effective story telling.

This movie isn’t recommended for children under 13 years because of its strong themes, frequent and graphic violence, coarse language and distressing content. We recommend parental guidance for children under 15 years.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • fighting injustice, particularly in non-violent ways
  • loving and supporting your family
  • being yourself and trusting that true friends will appreciate the real you.

The Hate U Give could also give you the chance to talk about real-life issues like:

  • the dangers and consequences of heavy drinking, drug use and underage drinking
  • the difference between good friendships and toxic friendships
  • racism in all its forms, particularly more subtle forms of racism.